Goochland County Pryors – 3 Suits Reveal Samuel Pryor ID

This week I have several posts all about Goochland County.

I’m excited to say I think we have one less Samuel Pryor to contend with in Goochland County. I feel that I spent a lot of time reading the Chancery Court cases, but I really needed to spend some extra time analyzing them and figuring out how the dates all fit together.

There was a Samuel Pryor in Goochland County. I think most researchers recognize him as the Samuel who married Prudence Thornton. But wait, there’s something interesting in the Chancery cases.

In about 1768 – I’m guessing at the date because the old suits aren’t date stamped like modern suits, however the first continuance was to July 1768–  a suit was filed in the Chancery Court of Goochland County: Reuben Meriwether, et al V. William Pryor the administrator of Samuel Pryor’s estate.  This indicates that Samuel was deceased by that time.


There is an important point to note: William was an “administrator” of the estate, an indicator that Samuel Pryor died without a will. This matches nicely to the Samuel Pryor who died without a will in 1766 resulting in an estate settlement. The suit filed by Reuben Meriwether noted above has a 1770 notice that summons William Pryor to appear before the justices, a strong indicator that William was alive in 1770. I wish there was a complaint in the file so we could know the substance of Reuben’s suit, however I suspect it involved requesting his mother’s dower and an inheritance from his deceased father, Nicholas Meriwether Sr.


William Pryor who was the administrator of Samuel’s estate died sometime between 1770 and 1779. In 1779, ten years after the suit was filed, it was amended to show William Pryor the administrator of Samuel’s estate was now William Pryor deceased. And there’s more… Samuel Pryor the executor of William’s estate was added to the suit. That’s interesting because it indicates that William left a will.

There is a 1777 will for William Pryor in Goochland County. Let’s see how this fits in.


Another Chancery Court case was filed in Goochland County in about 1785: William Smith and wife V. Samuel Pryor.  William Smith was married to Sarah/Sally Pryor who had previously been married to Matthew Payne. The suit states that her father was William Pryor, deceased and her mother had been Sarah (likely Sarah Wood per a 1758 bond William filed with Valentine Wood naming Henry as  his wife’s father). The suit identifies Sally Smith’s brothers as Samuel Pryor (the defendant), John Pryor who was deceased in 1785, and William Pryor. The suit also states that a Mr. Fleming was the executor of William Pryor.

The names in the 1785 Chancery Case all match the will filed in 1777 for William Pryor who appointed Col. William Fleming his executor and named his wife Sarah, children Samuel, William and John, Sally Payne, Patty and Mary and witnesses James Meriwether, Nicholas Meriwether, David Wood Meriwether, Meredith? Price. This certainly sounds like the family members named in the Chancery case.

I re-read another Chancery Court Case: Frances Pryor V. the Executor of William Pryor. The suit must have been filed around 1779 because the defendant’s answer was filed 18 October 1779. Frances states that she was married to Samuel Pryor and that he died in 1760-something (the actual year is blank in the suit). William Pryor took on the position of executor of Samuel’s estate and afterwards died and “his son Samuel” was the representative of his estate. Frances appears to have filed suit against the same Samuel Pryor that William Smith and Sally sued.

An account of the estate in the case of Frances Pryor V. William Pryor. "Capt. Samuel Pryor Estate to Frances Pryor widow and relict of Capt. Samuel Pryor deceased." Dates 1767 and 1768.

An account of the estate in the case of Frances Pryor V. William Pryor. “Capt. Samuel Pryor Estate to Frances Pryor widow and relic of Capt. Samuel Pryor deceased.” Dates 1767 and 1768.

Frances’ suit says she and Samuel had one child who was under twenty-one, who is likely the Samuel Pryor baptized at St. James Northam parish in 1762.  I know I and other researchers have believed Samuel the son of William and Sarah (Wood) Pryor was Frances’ husband– not true because that Samuel was alive well past 1785 and engaged in a lawsuit with William Smith and Sally Pryor. Oh, it does get confusing with all the same names!

Pryor Relationships in 3 Chancery Suits

Generation 1: Samuel and Prudence. Generation 2: Samuel and William Pryor. Generation 3: Children of Samuel and William and their spouses’ children. Orange boxes show the relationship of the 3 Chancery suits.